Anonymity: one of the most powerful inventions.

For users of 4chan, August 31st 2014 comes down as one of the most controversial internet events in history. The Fappening, is the hacking of over 200 private photos of celebrities. The hacks were confirmed to have been aimed towards Apple’s cloud services or better known as iCloud. This event stirred a lot of debate towards internet security. What could have been different to stop this from being ever happened?

Two factors came into play that made the hacking possible – the alleged compromising of Apple’s database and the victim’s account information. Having multiple online identities and particularly an anonymous one is a growing trend in the digital world. It would be naive to think that the hackers wouldn’t find another way to obtain the images had the account informations been anonymous or under pseudonyms, but it would’ve surely decreased the risks.

On the other hand, it can be argued that anonymity gave the hackers power in the first place. By hiding behind several layers of proxy servers, they were able to perform the attacks with confidence. Anonymity, in the hands of the wrong people, is evidently dangerous.

“As soon as you log into a Gmail account, you start getting ads for the drug rehab you want to forget. If you’re in a real-name environment, such as Facebook, unless you actually physically change your name and your friends, you’re thrown right back into your old life.”

– Andrew Lewman, Executive Director of the Tor Project.

Lewman makes a revealing point that I can personally relate to. Online gaming was a big part of my life growing up and as cliché as it may sound it served as a place to find myself. In the real world, I was an awkward 15 year old with low self esteem, in game, I was someone else. Separating my real self from my online persona gave me liberty to shape the person I am today.

Contrary to popular beliefs, the digital world is slowly dialling down the need for having multiple online identities. Convenience is as important to a lot of people as is anonymity. Knowing I can share almost literally all on Facebook is a big plus.

Having an online identity that is consistent is extremely beneficial when you are trying to make a name for yourself. In gaming alone, people can now stream themselves playing video games live on websites such as twitch. Having a consistent and recognizable persona on the streams is extremely important in attracting viewers.

Having multiple online identities gives the user the sense of power, control and liberty. Unfortunately, anyone can have them.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”

– Uncle Ben from The Spiderman.

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Having multiple online identities is easy. Here are just a couple of mine.
Having multiple online identities is easy. Here are just a couple of mine.

References:

The Fappening – http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/sep/01/naked-celebrity-hack-icloud-backup-jennifer-lawrence

TJX Hacker Gets 20 Years in Prison – http://www.wired.com/2010/03/tjx-sentencing/

Authenticity vs Anonymity – http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity

7 Steps To Building Your Online Identity – jetsetshow – http://youtu.be/2UlcOX1fZW4

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7 thoughts on “Anonymity: one of the most powerful inventions.

  1. This is an especially interesting post for me as I commented on my own use of multiple identities in a 15-year-old geek gaming/forum environment in my blog. In my experiences, it actually took me a fairly long time, probably 3/4 years, to turn these opportunities to create new friends with a new personality into the real world, even though it was obvious from the word go that my confident self was much more successful, so how long do you think it took you to turn those changes into real world ones?

    It’s a fair point that celebrities may soon be advised to take up anonymous accounts etc. online though, after the incident a few weeks ago. The internet is gradually meeting halfway with the real world in this regard, I think, being that celebs have been trying to hide their identities from paparazzi in the real world for years now. Being anonymous means we can blend in, and being online means we have the choice of when to blend in and when to stand out.

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    1. Hi Andy,

      Firstly, I swear I wrote this blog before reading anyone else’s 😀

      Online gaming was a bit of a unique experience for me. Confidence was one thing but it also gave me a platform to learn a lot of other things too. As someone who doesn’t speak English as a first language, I was miles ahead compared to my friends in school when it comes to reading, writing and speaking English. Gaming also showed me how much of a child I was more than it taught me how to be an adult. I’m sure you’ve gotten yourself into heated debates and arguments in your gaming experiences as well and we can both agree trying to have a civilised and objective argument at 15 is impossible.
      So to answer your question, I’m not sure really. It didn’t take me long to take in and adapt the practical stuff I learnt into the real world such as language. Confidence definitely hit me quick and as soon as I realised I was pretty much the only kid in school who knew how to use the internet (sometimes too much confidence). The maturity bit … maybe I have maybe I haven’t, who knows.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi,

    I really like the fact that you’ve related personal experiences to the themes of On-line Privacy and Identity but what about your own personal opinions and beliefs with regards to Online Security?

    Are our details really safe online? Ebay password’s being leaked.. Surely ‘Anonymity, in the hands of the wrong people, is evidently dangerous.’?

    Like

    1. Hi Aumar,
      Honestly, I think anything is possible nowadays. Underground hacking groups, the dark web, shadow web, whatever you want to call them. I’ve heard a lot of stories as to how big and powerful these groups really are and it’s a bit silly that a lot of people have never heard of them (with some thinking they are a myth). So no, I don’t believe our details are* steel-reinforced safe online but believing it is sure helps people keep a peace of mind. If I were to be honest, it’s unlikely I’d be a target to any hacking.

      Liked by 1 person

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